When did it start these articles solely comprised of numerical lists? Is it the natural evolution from magazine covers;”50 New Looks For Spring” “15 Ways To Make Him Swoon” “10 Tricks To Getting A Proposal”? At some point it was discovered that people respond to Arabic numerals. (You will never see a magazine cover emblazoned with “Twelve Ways To Spruce Up Your Pantry” or “IX Ways To Rock His World”.)
Numerical lists are really only compatible with the most practical of subjects. No one needs flowery exposition on stain removal. Just tell us which 10 items will work best on synthetics. Anything that involves shopping certainly warrants only lists and photos. The average person will slip into unconsciousness having to read anything about high-waisted pants beyond; ‘buy them now’. But articles about human relationships, education, politics, and culture do not lend themselves to bullet points. However numbered lists sell and therein lays the conundrum.
The writer who pens a fully fleshed out piece is pressured to insert numbers (in the title and the body). A writer seeking readership might resort to creating lists versus narrative. There is usually some measure of disappointment for the reader in discovering that the “10 Guys You Should Avoid At All Costs” is a list of 5 guys whose description is vague enough to cover every man who’s walked the earth and 5 guys who are such caricatures as to be more suited to science fiction.
Part of the appeal of these lists passing as content is our attention span as readers. We’re at the point at which we consider a 140 character Tweet to be ‘wordy’. If an email stretches beyond a paragraph (and it better be a tight paragraph) we’ve lost the reader. This love of condensed and concentrated delivery unfortunately extends to the theatre as well. Theatre producers regularly consider the length of a play before mounting a production. Some artistic directors even apologize for a full-length production. The good news is that the trend can’t continue forever. We are not going to devolve into communicating solely through grunts and emoticons. We will probably never revert back to four-hour movies (with intermissions). But some bounce back will occur. People will tire of Tang, they usually do. A new generation is bound to ‘discover’ meaningful and full-length content.
Now I did promise to list 5 Reasons This Article Is Useless. But I trust you dear reader to compile that list on your own.
Tags: articles, attention span, Brenda Tobias, email, journalism, magazines, Media, publishing, Twitter, writing
Once the daytime temperature high dips below 25 (and stays there for days) all style bets are off. If your entire exposure to the out of doors consists of the 10-20 steps from your front door to your car to your office door, your appearance still suffers. Even if you don’t have hat hair (and for g-d’s sake you could die from being that vain!) your hair is dried & fried. Your nose is beet red and running and so are your eyes. No one looks good when it’s this cold. In fact it’s a minor miracle that the northern states repopulate. It’s no wonder that fashion magazines and websites are filled with spring apparel. Clothes stores turn up the thermostat to help with cognitive dissonance and faltering sales. As we start to sweat in our sweaters and coats purchasing a sleeveless shift (in January) seems almost reasonable. Perusing open-toed shoes is a delightful diversion and a beacon of hope for our unvarnished neglected ice-cold toes. Just the idea that our feet may someday see the light of day again can be enough to help us soldier on.
It can dampen the spirits just a wee bit when the fashion being pitched isn’t exactly the golden ticket one hoped for. While I’m sure there are women (over the age of 8) who can rock pastels, it’s probably a very small percentage. Easter eggs seemed to have shared a special hug and created multiple lines of shoes and accessories this season. Pastel green? Really? It’s hard to even find a reason for that color to exist let alone find its way onto leather goods. Okay, so maybe this won’t be the season to purchase a new pair of shoes (did you hear that? and angel just lost its wings.) That leaves a whole lot of fashion/merchandise to drool/swoon over, right? Not so fast. There seems to be a trend (trend: a nice word for all manufacturers take their cues from one or two designers) of unflattering shapes and cuts. Granted the cropped pant has been around for a few seasons, but it’s really in its glory this spring. It is simply everywhere. In fact, you’d probably be hard pressed to find many full-length pants for sale. Now with all due respect to Gilligan, cropped pants are simply unflattering if you are under 5’10”. Making the leg line shorter (or stumpier) is simply not a sensible silhouette goal. Adding to the stumpy effect is the addition of high waists (with pleats!) and drawstrings and/or peplum; adding volume, volume and more volume. A perfectly normal proportioned person now looks like a balloon animal. To top off this squatty look are voluminous/tiered/ruffled blouses and tops. The entire ensemble sending the distinct message; “I’m in here somewhere.”
Now not many of us enter early springtime at our fighting weight. So there is something to say for some strategic camouflaging. But strategic camouflage rarely involves adding volume and making things look bigger. A little extra middle is best hidden with a tailored top or jacket. A little extra hip or bottom is best served by a pant that fits perfectly on the hip and bottom (probably tailored at the waist) and has a full (not oversized) leg. But these are really four season rules. Whatever are we to do about finding our light at the end of our 25-degree tunnel? Flipping to the back of the magazine to the home and garden section can work. Images of lush blooming flowers and greenery fill the heart and head with hope. Gorgeous photo spreads of salads, mixed grills and sangria can save you from a full-blown sweats on, pizza ordered, “I’ve lost all hope” 48 hour bender. Before we know it the temperature will rise and we’ll be able to smell the earth once more. We will be inexplicably surprised when we see the first sign of emerging crocuses. In just a matter of (several) weeks the ground will be dotted with tiny brave flowers in the most stunning shades of purple and yellow, which incidentally would look fabulous in a shoe.
Tags: accessories, bags, Brenda Tobias, cropped pant, drawstring, fashion, garden, Gilligan, home, magazines, pastels, peplum, shoes, Spring '13, style